Today’s guest blog is brought to you by Camilla Peffer. She is a copywriter and content marketer for fashion and lifestyle brands.
A couple of weeks ago I launched a podcast all about love and sex. All We Cannot Say was inspired by a messy break-up and short-lived love affair and was created as a means for me to share my experience of re-entering the dating world. My first listeners were those closest to me: the people I work next to every day. As a freelance copywriter, I spend my time at co-working spaces, spending time with other digital nomads and desktop entrepreneurs. If you’ve ever visited a co-working space, you’ll know that the relationships you develop there are completely unlike those you’ll develop within the illuminated walls of an office cubicle.
The people I see every day aren’t just collaborators or co-inhabitants – they’re some of my best friends. They build me up just before big client meetings, high five me when contracts are signed, and now, they know all about my personal life.
I’ve never had trouble expressing myself. I’m the sort of person who feels things intensely, and writing is an emotional outlet just as much as it is a creative and professional one. So naturally, when I find that I’m so moved by an experience, I’ll editorialize it. Sometimes it gets turned into a podcast episode, sometimes an impassioned Facebook post, and occasionally I’ll blog about it. Like that time I felt the need to slow down, or found inspiration for my business in the humidity of Balinese culture.
But lately, I’ve been questioning the function of transparency in business.
When does candor become unprofessional? Can you keep your personal life private, without alienating your audience?
The pros of vulnerability in business
You’ll be more approachable
Demonstrating your vulnerability can make you more approachable, likeable, and human. If you’re not one for being perceived as high and mighty atop their thrown, conveying your emotional side can do your brand and business wonders.
Tim Ferriss does a masterful job at this, openly discussing his bouts of depression alongside other aspirational content. Like Tim, when people find a common thread within their audience, this can create a high degree of resonance and deepen relationships. And when you have deeper, more profound relationships with your audience, you’ll increase their loyalty and lifetime value.
Your story can inspire others
Throughout my journey with my podcast, I’ve felt touched by those who’ve found meaning within my story. I’ve had countless people share their similar stories or heartache, and thank me for making them feel less alone. What if you could similarly inspire your customers to get through those tough times? Helping people feel less alone does wonders for mental health at the individual level, as well as the collective level. Strength in numbers!
You might feel lighter
It’s exhausting to pretend that you’re 10/10 all of the time. While there’s truth in the adage ‘fake it ‘til you make it’, there’s also a cathartic benefit to transparency. Missed a deadline? Behind on orders? Sometimes honesty is the best policy, and chances are, people will relate to your hardship. You can’t be excellent 100% of the time, and being honest with your audience will allow you to step off the pedestal and become human again.
You’ll be more memorable
Aside from inspiring your audience to overcome adversity, sharing your story will also keep you at the front of people’s minds. There’s a reason your favourite writers, bloggers, and media darlings are particularly popular – their stories are memorable. JK Rowling isn’t just the woman who wrote Harry Potter – she’s the single, struggling mother who overcame financial hardship to become the author of the world’s best selling book series.
By sharing your own deeply personal narratives, you’re naturally marketing yourself to perhaps your most valuable audience – those just like you who will buy what you have to say, because you’ve spoken your truth.
The cons of too much information
Can be perceived as attention seeking
Before sharing your story with your audience, ask yourself what the function is of your transparency. Is it to find a common connection with your readers, and to help them feel less alone in their endeavors? Perhaps to share a common goal or cause? Or maybe it’s simply to vent your spleen? If your goals are connection, closure and to rally for the common good of the group, transparency can be an effective way to communicate. But if you’re exasperated in your personal life, your best friend, mother or therapist might be more equipped to deal with your emotions. Don’t feel bad about having a human moment! But remember that your clients and customers aren’t there for emotional support.
Emotions can be perceived as unprofessional
As someone who hosts a podcast about love and sex, I’m often met with unfiltered and unsolicited invitations. It goes with the territory, and I’ve had to learn to be selective of who I share my podcast with. I wouldn’t mention it to some of my more conservative clients who rely on me for content marketing, but for those who share my interest in emotional intelligence and sexual health? I’ll invite them right on over to the Facebook page, thank you very much.
Clients can overstep the line
Candor and good humor can help you build rapport with your clients and customers. But there’s a fine line between too much information and just the right amount of self-revelation.
Now, I’m all for treating clients with kindness, warmth, and respect. But unfortunately, there are select individuals in this world who can take advantage of vulnerability. Be wary of them, and keep your personal life for those who’ll receive it with warmth and lack of judgment.
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